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Need to Know: Will Gruden adjust his coaching to better fit the Redskins’ personnel?

Feb 2, 2015, 5:37 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 2, 16 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL assemble in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page:


I assume you’re referring to Jay Gruden here and so the short answer is yes. He will adjust what he does and what plays he calls to take advantage of the strengths and, just as importantly, the weaknesses of his players.

Clearly, the question implies that Tommy did not think that that Gruden did take advantage of what his players did well. And, on the face of it, he did fail to do so in a few cases. There weren’t enough third-down passes to Pierre Garçon. Alfred Morris didn’t carry the ball enough. DeSean Jackson could have caught at least a few more deep passes. And Robert Griffin III was not on the move nearly enough.

Now, if you dig down you can find some mitigating circumstances. The Redskins were trailing by so much so often that the running game had to go out the window. Getting enough time to throw deep was often a dicey proposition. Griffin told ESPN 980 last week that he wasn’t healthy most of last year after suffering a dislocated ankle in Week 2 so his mobility may have been hampered.

But, regardless, there was no reason that an offense with that much talent at the skill positions should rank 26th in the NFL in scoring. Redskins fans should hope that Gruden learned on the job in his first year as a head coach and his first year working with these players. Armed with better knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses, Gruden should be able to devise better schemes to utilize their talents.

A couple of weeks ago I answered a question about Jay Gruden being on the hot seat and I said that Gruden didn’t need a particular number of wins in 2015 to survive and get a third season. But he has to move some things in a positive direction and taking advantage of skill players who are getting big paychecks (Jackson and Garçon) or that the team gave up a lot to obtain (Griffin) is high on the list.


—It’s been 36 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 223 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 16; NFL free agency starts 36; 2015 NFL Draft 87

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. 226thebeatdontstop - Feb 2, 2015 at 7:58 AM

    After watching the playoffs and super bowl it is obvious to me Gruden was clueless in his first year trying to run the offense and develop his quarterbacks. He was unable to utilize players to their strengths and it appears he was one of these my way or the highway type of guys which won’t cut it in the NFC .

    The Redskins clearly need to draft on the interior on both sides of the ball. If they want to run a 3-4 they need a real nose tackle with size and athleticism. The kid from Univ of Washington and from East Carolina have massive size and athleticism. Everything starts up front,

    They also need young guards on that offensive line with tenacity and size and a right tackle. If they are serious about winning these areas should be addressed immediately.

    I totally do not understand why Gruden did not target Garcon underneath more then once or twice a game. Garcon has the speed and elusiveness to take a 5 yard out or curl for 8 -10 yards every play .The way New England uses Eddlemen. What happened to utilizing Jordan reed when he is healthy? Line him up all over the field and let him use his speed and athleticism again Gruden the play caller failed in this area

    And I still don’ t get why Gruden did not have his quarterbacks use more bootlegs or get out on the edge of the pocket , this pocket passer stuff is ridiculous if you don’t have that guy with that skillset on the team. He also did not use Alfred Morris enough in the run game regardless of what the score was he needed to establish an identity with this team.

  2. goback2rfk - Feb 2, 2015 at 8:26 AM

    Gruden wont make it 2 more years, he will be gone after next year.

  3. bangkokben - Feb 2, 2015 at 8:55 AM

    I was really hoping that Griffin could return to his 2012 form or progress as a serviceable pocket passer. Now, after hearing what he had to say about the 2014 season, I think he still hasn’t gotten it. I had really hoped that he would mature – as we all do entering our mid-twenties but he still seems like he has a ways to go and/or is surrounded by yes men.

    The two things that I’ve taken away from his recent interviews is that he still feels his team doesn’t have his back and that he needs to get fully healthy from his injury. Let’s suppose that both of those things are true, it still doesn’t fix what he clearly struggles with. He has to be more decisive! The primary way to get there is to learn the entire offense including what every position is suppose to do – so that you know when Leonard Hankerson is lined up on the wrong side of the formation – and learn what the defense is doing pre-snap. Then get reps and even in practice choose to keep your eyes down field and find a receiver.

    He had one awesome year with coaches he could no longer get along with. He wants to become a pocket passer yet doesn’t want to put in the work to become one. He had six/seven weeks in the middle of the season to get better at the mental part of the game – and didn’t have to rush back – yet he pushed himself physically to return but not at 100%. God forbid the team win without him.

    Robert, you could’ve sat out, got yourself 100%, LEARNED, and then you would’ve been seen as part of solution instead of part of the problem.

    • Stephfan - Feb 2, 2015 at 9:26 AM

      Regardless this article ain’t bout griffin it’s bout gruden. He didn’t do a great job and neither did griffin. But us bashing griffin every step if the way isn’t going to help the team. More is a coach that only wants to do things his way. A coach is supposed to merge is offense with the players not force a system down griffin’s throat… Or anyone’s. Gruden messed up when he kept mike’s staff around. He could’ve axed them n create his own but no, he stuck with the worst dc and secondary coach in the league

      • bangkokben - Feb 2, 2015 at 9:33 AM

        Gruden isn’t a coach that only wants to do it his way. The Tampa game – a lot of zone read with deep passes. Griffin’s apparent strengths. But Griffin wouldn’t keep the ball on the zone reads and overthrew DeSean Jackson twice.

        • 226thebeatdontstop - Feb 2, 2015 at 12:21 PM

          they did not do a lot of zone read in the Tampa game , they did not do a lot of zone read period. Its not about doing zone read it is about sprinkling it in a game plan about 4-5 times a game. The scheme Gruden was using only benefitted Gruden , well it exposed him as being pass happy and clueless in using players to their strengths both on offense and defense. Offense was supposed to be Grudens strength but his play calling was all over the place.

    • hk2000 - Feb 2, 2015 at 9:29 AM

      What he said.

    • redskinsinrichmondva - Feb 2, 2015 at 1:04 PM

      All the” learning” in the world off the field does not replace real-time game reps and experience. Besides, Gruden also had issues with his other QB, Kirk Cousins — he even benched him in the middle of a game. Colt McCoy was also on the QB performance roller-coaster during the season; that Rams game was as ugly as any other game from the season.

      Your THREE QBs have had issues executing the offense, and unlike Griffin, Cousins (and McCoy to some extent) are supposed to be more used to throwing in a traditional dropback offense. Blame Griffin all you want, but coaching also matters. And, as I said below, Gruden’s been associated with mostly average or below-average offenses for years, at least from the passing standpoint. Gruden has not lead, coached, or assisted coached a great offense.

      • bangkokben - Feb 2, 2015 at 7:08 PM

        I hear you, but if Griffin is still leaning on the team doesn’t support me and I was injured, then is he really teachable? Colin Kaepernick had a similar season – better supporting cast and no injuries – yet he’s going to Kurt Warner to learn the position. Griffin is getting help from Terry Shea who thinks Griffin played well last season. You and I know he didn’t. Griffin can’t select the ‘skins staff but he can have a teachable spirit/attitude. Until he changes that he will continue to spend all his time in the weight room trying to regain his 2012 self.

  4. hk2000 - Feb 2, 2015 at 9:27 AM

    What is the meaning of coaching? To me coaching is teaching: If your player does not get it, you make sure he does, you keep harping on it until he gets it or he gets replaced. If your line does not get the scheme you’re implementing, you make sure they do you’re there to make everyone better at what you’re trying to do. COACHING IS TEACHING. To answer the question though, no he won’t because he is incapable of it. Gruden is a one trick pony and not a very good one at that.

    • bangkokben - Feb 2, 2015 at 9:40 AM

      You better hope Jay Gruden gets better at it because if he doesn’t all those players Scot M is drafting may be obsolete for the next coach’s system.

  5. mr.moneylover - Feb 2, 2015 at 9:42 AM

    Jay gruden scheme is fit for big physical wide receivers and we dont have that and this year I here they plan on getting bigger at the wide receiver postion along with getting a all around tight end that can block and catch and move jordan reed to wide receiver

    • bangkokben - Feb 2, 2015 at 9:51 AM

      Everyone loves big physical receivers. The problem is when you allow that to draft Rod Gardner instead of Santana Moss. Scot M’s receiver picks have not exactly set the league on fire.

  6. mcater69 - Feb 2, 2015 at 9:43 AM

    its unfortunate but I think Gruden will be gone after this year. Unfortunate because there is no consistency in the coaching staff for any period of time. This is a constant problem with the Redskins and one of the main reasons we can’t win consistently. I like the way the front office has been assembled and the additions to the coaching staff. Barry is a hire I’m not sold on(Detroit), although that roster was awful. The Callahan hiring I like same with Fewell. 2 good hires as position coaches.
    With that being said Gruden needs to be given time to see if he is the right guy. We aren’t SB contenders next year, lets realize that. Give the GM McLoughan some time to change the roster and see where we are in 2-3 years. This teams needs at least that long(unless he hits back-to-back home runs) in the next 2 drafts. Remember he said they are building this team thru the draft with an occasional FA addition. This will take time..

    • bangkokben - Feb 2, 2015 at 9:53 AM

      It will take a lot more time if Gruden is sent packing for the reasons you mentioned. Furthermore any ‘good’ hires will be wasted as well. Gruden should be given at least two more years.

      • redskinsinrichmondva - Feb 2, 2015 at 10:02 AM

        I’ve posted about this several times before, but look up how offenses associated with Jay Gruden (either as offensive assistant, offensive coordinator, or head coach) have performed compared to league average.

        This is 10 years in the league here.

        • bangkokben - Feb 2, 2015 at 10:17 AM

          Offense is important but just one of three parts. Defense and special teams were worse than the offense and offense is likely to benefit from improvements in both units. So even if Gruden’s offense is average it’s the sum of the parts that has to work. Shanahan’s offenses were always great in yards but only average in points and look at his last ten years as head coach – meh.

        • redskinsinrichmondva - Feb 2, 2015 at 10:47 AM

          Well I’m not using total yards or points; there are inherent flaws with both of those stats. The team component stats at Football Outsiders do a better job at analyzing offenses, defenses, and special teams.

          And while I haven’t looked at the special teams rankings, I do know that Jay Gruden has played with above-average or great defenses during his coaching career in the league.

    • 226thebeatdontstop - Feb 2, 2015 at 12:29 PM

      Unfortunate? What makes you think Gruden is a good coach there were so many other options to chose from but Bruce Allen wanted to continue this ridiculous Tampa connection. Tampa hasn’t won anything in years.

      Gruden chose to keep Haslett which was ridiculous, he did not hire a quarterbacks coach , his game day planning was poor at best, no players seem to get better through out the season , he did not know how to use Garcon or Alfred Morris and again that defense especially the lack of pressure up front or a pass rush and the secondary was amateurish.

      This team needs to beef up the interiors of the offensive and defensive lines, get safety’s , and establish an identity. Gruden also played favorites through the media and trashed players with these so called leaks , he won’t be around long and I agree changing coaches, systems ruins any chance of continuity but he should have never been hired.

  7. goback2rfk - Feb 2, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    Redskins are pretty much the worst team in the NFC. The only team with a worst record was the Bucs and you saw what the Bucs did to the Skins.

    Season tickets?! Yeh why don’t you go take a long walk off a short pier. I scored 2 decent tickets last year for $15 dollars. I do not know how the hell the Skins get these people to buy these season tickets.

  8. kenlinkins - Feb 2, 2015 at 11:14 AM

    This is the old chicken and egg debate (should a coach change or should the players conform), And there is no right answer. The truth is most often found in the middle, and until the Redskins can find some better players, playmakers, and a core of players who are willing to run thru walls to win, everyone is going to have a very hard time judging the coaching. Question: How can it be that 3 coaching staffs in a row have had problems “teaching” players how to play a game where they are some of the best in the world at? Answer: They are not the best or they are lacking heart / will to win! Better players make better teams (and make coach’s look good).

  9. tomwatson9854 - Feb 2, 2015 at 11:49 AM

    The Redskins played a 4th place schedule with a better and more experienced team than the 2012 team that went 10-6,with an extra 40 million dollars to spend. Change the offense for the 3rd straight year you idiots!

  10. alextwrs - Feb 2, 2015 at 12:00 PM

    Did anybody see the super akward hug Jay gave to Colt after they beat the cowboys. It was to say the least, cold and off standing. I doubt he has a good relationship with any of the locker room. What is his strngth as a head coach? Scheme or motivation? I dont see either.

  11. timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 2, 2015 at 12:01 PM

    I dont think he is gonna change his scheme one bit. He didnt last year. He seems arrogant. I hope he is gone next year and we bring in Art Briles

    • bangkokben - Feb 2, 2015 at 1:07 PM

      That would be the WORST case scenario! Then we would have a college coach with no NFL experience, no playbook, and no defense coaching a team built for something totally different – like the NFL. And Oh by the way, Griffin is no longer under contract.

      Child Please! What are you a Redskin fan or a Baylor fan?

      • Stephfan - Feb 2, 2015 at 1:33 PM

        Rg3 is under contract this year, how dumb are u

        • bangkokben - Feb 2, 2015 at 1:52 PM

          Not in the scenario tim is proposing. He wouldn’t be under contract then. And yes, I am pretty dumb. How dumb are you?

        • Joe Greene - Feb 2, 2015 at 8:03 PM

          You might want to develop a modicum of reading comprehension before calling someone else dumb.

      • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 3, 2015 at 12:48 AM

        First off how do you know that Briles doesnt have a playbook? Are you saying he just goes out there and tells thewere to run or tells every WR what route to run every play? He has a playbook he just adjusts it to his players like a good coach should plus he has Baylor in the top rankings every year. Spurrier wasnt commited to the time needed and kept trying to have a TE block a DE by himself.

        • Joe Greene - Feb 4, 2015 at 6:52 PM

          If you’re so clueless about Art Briles that you don’t know he doesn’t have a playbook, you should really stop having an opinion about him. The lack of a playbook for his offense is common knowledge.

    • Joe Greene - Feb 2, 2015 at 8:04 PM

      Briles will be an even bigger failure than “the ole ball coach” was.

  12. Willie Parham Jr - Feb 2, 2015 at 3:44 PM

    I will start with this the skins have to get a line first no protection rg can’t do anything receivers have to catch the ball and our secondary has to get better

  13. brucefan1 - Feb 2, 2015 at 5:42 PM

    I wasn’t impressed with Jay’s work in his first year either.

    Imho, he didn’t seem at all bright and/or innovative, he didn’t seem to have the ability to get the most out of WHATEVER he had to work with, he didn’t show much in the way of making in-game adjustments to what other teams were doing against the Skins, he didn’t seem to handle his public dealings with the players very well (although some pundits – especially some of the old-timers who think EVERYBODY needs a kick in the backside as a motivational tool – seemed to love his approach! LOL), and overall he seemed a little bit immature – a little goofy at one time, a little petulant another, an bit despondent on some occasions, a little too feisty on others… just not QUITE ready for prime time.

    With all that said I agree completely with those who feel he deserves the chance he will be getting next season to learn, improve, and grow up, into the coach the Skins expected when they hired him.

  14. Joe Greene - Feb 2, 2015 at 8:05 PM

    The “talent” here isn’t good enough to adjust to. It would be one thing if there was some hidden ability that isn’t being used, but the reality is the one trick pony can’t do his one trick anymore and most of the rest of the offense isn’t built to succeed any other way.

    • Stephfan - Feb 2, 2015 at 8:11 PM

      To the dumbass named joe Greene you need to learn football before you go talking… You don’t know if briles would be bad. Second you talk about Colin going to learn from warner so what? The guy that griffin chose is a qb guru. I don’t see any other qb learning form warner. But let’s be real warner wasn’t all that great. He had average seasons at best.

    • redskinsinrichmondva - Feb 2, 2015 at 9:08 PM

      I’m still waiting for you to provide proof that the Redskins used only “one trick” (the read-option run) in their 2012 offense with Griffin.

      Actually, you don’t need to do that. Because I already provided the numbers that show this to be 100% false. Twice.

  15. unklewheez - Feb 3, 2015 at 6:12 AM

    I am a Cousin’s guy. Griffin is an underperforming diva. Open competition in training camp, hopefully the best person wins. If so it won’t be RG3 unless he puts in a lot of work. HTTR Archives

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